Cloud-based environment: The new normal for IT shops

An IT industry analyst article published by SearchServerVirtualization.


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The sky is the limit as new cloud management tools and evolutions in storage help make hybrid and multicloud IT a viable option for organizations with on-prem data centers.

Mike Matchett
Small World Big Data

Doubts about a cloud-based environment being little more than a passing fancy are vanishing. Plenty of real enterprises are not only comfortable releasing key workloads to public clouds, but are finding that hybrid operations at scale offer significant economic, productivity and competitive advantages over traditional on-premises data centers.

In fact, many of the big announcements at VMworld 2017 highlighted how mainstream businesses are now building and consuming hybrid and multicloud IT.
NSX all around

VMware has accelerated its transition from hypervisor vendor to cloud-management tool provider. Its virtual networking product, NSX, is not only a big source of revenue for VMware, but it also underpins many newer offerings, such as AppDefense, VMware Cloud on AWS and Network Insight. Basically, NSX has become the glue, the ether that fills VMware’s multicloud management business.

By shifting the center of its universe from hypervisor to the network between and underneath everything, VMware can now provide command and control over infrastructure and applications running in data centers, clouds, mobile devices and even out to the brave new internet of things (IoT) edge.

More MaaS, please
VMware rolled out seven management as a service (MaaS) offerings. MaaS describes a sales model in which a vendor delivers systems management functionality as a remote, subscription utility service. MaaS is ideal for systems management tasks across multiple clouds and complex hybrid infrastructures.

One of the motivations for MaaS is that the IT administrator doesn’t need to install or maintain on-premises IT management tools. Another is that the MaaS vendor gains an opportunity to mine big data aggregated across their entire customer pool, which should enable it to build deeply intelligent services.

Four of these new services are based on existing vRealize Operations technologies that VMware has repackaged for SaaS-style delivery. We’ve also heard that there are more MaaS products on the way.

It’s important for vendors to offer MaaS services — such as call home and remote monitoring — as the inevitable future consumption model for all systems management. There isn’t a single organization that benefits from employing an expert to maintain its internal, complex systems management tool. And with mobile, distributed and hybrid operations, most existing on-premises management products fall short of covering the whole enterprise IT architecture. I have no doubt the future is MaaS, a model that is bound to quickly attract IT shops that want to focus less on maintaining management tools and more on efficiently operating hybrid, multicloud architectures.

Storage evolves
The VMworld show floor has been a real storage showcase in recent years, with vendors fighting for more attention and setting up bigger, flashier booths. But it seemed this year that the mainline storage vendors pulled back a bit. This could be because software-defined storage products such as VMware vSAN are growing so fast or that the not-so-subtle presence of Dell EMC storage has discouraged others from pushing as hard at this show. Or it could be that in this virtual hypervisor market, hyper-convergence (and open convergence too) is where it’s at these days.

If cloud-based environments and hybrid management are finally becoming just part of normal IT operations, then what’s the next big thing?

Maybe it’s that all the past storage hoopla stemmed from flash storage crashing its way through the market. Competition on the flash angle is smoothing out now that everyone has flash-focused storage products. This year, nonvolatile memory express, or NVMe, was on everyone’s roadmap, but there was very little NVMe out there ready to roll. I’d look to next year as the big year for NVMe vendor positioning. Who will get it first? Who will be fastest? Who will be most cost-efficient? While there is some argument that NVMe isn’t going to disrupt the storage market as flash did, I expect similar first-to-market vendor competitions.

Data protection, on the other hand, seems to be gaining. Cohesity and other relatively new vendors have lots to offer organizations with a large virtual and cloud-based environment. While secondary storage hasn’t always seemed sexy, scalable and performant secondary storage can make all the difference in how well the whole enterprise IT effort works. Newer scale-out designs can keep masses of secondary data online and easily available for recall or archive, restore, analytics and testing. Every day, we hear of new machine learning efforts to use bigger and deeper data histories.

These storage directions — hyper-convergence, faster media and scale-out secondary storage — all support a more distributed and hybrid approach to data center architectures…(read the complete as-published article there)

Enterprise cloud storage boosted by Oracle Cloud Converged Storage

An IT industry analyst article published by SearchOracle.


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Hybrid cloud storage systems sound great in theory. So why has it taken vendors so long to produce one that’s actually ‘hybrid’?

Mike Matchett

True hybrid enterprise cloud storage systems promise the best of both on-premises infrastructure and public cloud. They offer the performance, security and governance of local storage necessary for many mission-critical business applications — not to mention the on-demand elastic scalability and utility economics of public clouds.

But finding true hybrid cloud tools to support critical, enterprise-class, database-driven applications can be difficult. This gaping hole in the market has left enterprise IT pros and business application owners stuck on legacy infrastructures.

However, there has been significant progress. Oracle Cloud Converged Storage, released last month, integrates storage services across its database, enterprise applications, enterprise storage infrastructure and public cloud. Practically, its latest on-premises Oracle ZFS storage arrays internally and organically extend into public Oracle Cloud storage (which is also made up of ZFS storage arrays) — no gateway integration or third-party software required.

Oracle Cloud Converged Storage looks like what many of us thought hybrid storage was supposed to look like. Yet, no high-performance, enterprise storage system has ever actually delivered a true native hybrid cloud capability. Why haven’t other vendors, such as IBM and Dell EMC, offered hybrid cloud storage to leverage their enterprise storage and cloud tools? Those vendors require a hardware or software gateway to move data to the public cloud, unlike Oracle, which doesn’t require one.

This failure to deliver what customers really want may be due to internal competition between legacy infrastructure and separately managed cloud divisions…(read the complete as-published article there)

IT management as a service is coming to a data center near you

An IT industry analyst article published by SearchITOperations.


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IT management as a service uses big data analytics and vendors’ expertise to ease the IT administration and optimization process. IT orgs must trust the flow of log and related data into an offsite, multi-tenant cloud.

Mike Matchett

IT management as a service finally breaks through. Where does it go from here?

Perhaps the über IT trend isn’t about hailing a ride from within the data center, but adopting and migrating to newer generations of tools that ease the cost and pain of managing infrastructure.

It’s not efficient for each IT shop to individually develop and maintain siloed expertise in managing every vendor-specific component. The physical — and financial — limits of IT shops are by and large why cloud service providers continue to gain ground.

Today, there is an inexorable transition toward commoditized physical equipment with differentiating software-defined capabilities floated in on top. Using commodity hardware offers direct CapEx benefits. However, by taking advantage of software resources — and virtualization — to pre-integrate multiple infrastructure layers, converged and hyper-converged platforms also eliminate significant IT time and labor required by traditional, siloed architectures. In freeing up IT, the converged and hyper-converged options also improve overall agility and help IT groups transition from equipment caretakers to business enhancers.

In a similar bid to lower management OpEx pain, IT operations and management solutions are slowly and inexorably increasing inherent automation. Policy-based approaches help an IT organization address scale and focus on building the right services for their users instead of remaining stuck in low-level, tedious and often reactive “per-thing” configuration and management. And much of the appeal of cloud computing is based on offloading IT by offering end-user self-service capabilities.

But even in running a hyper-converged or hybrid cloud data center, there are still plenty of IT hours spent thanklessly on internally facing operations and management tasks. Operating a cloud, a cluster, a hybrid operation — even just maintaining the actual management tools that run the operations and automation — can still be a huge chore. Similar to how many businesses now use the cloud as a source of easy, catalog-driven, self-service, elastic, utility-priced application computing, IT is starting to look to the cloud for IT management as a service.

The broadening acceptance of public cloud services is inverting the traditional IT management paradigm, moving management services into the cloud while preserving on-premises — or hybrid — computing and infrastructure. This has been a long, slow battle due to ingrained IT tradition, security fears and worries about losing control; there’s a reluctance to let go of the private management stack. But the drive to make IT more efficient and productive is now taking priority.

We are seeing the inevitable acceptance and widespread adoption of remote, cloud-hosted IT management services, from remote performance management to hybrid cloud provisioning and brokering and even on-premises “cluster” operations. These services can be referred to collectively as IT management as a service, or IT MaaS…(read the complete as-published article there)